Caribbean islands fringed with pearl-white beaches, sleepy colonial towns with Spaghetti Western bell towers, condor-patrolled Andean valleys and ruined pre-Colombian cities. The landscapes alone will have you falling for Colombia. And that’s before you get the colorful carnivals, the scent of tropical flowers and the nocturnal beat of salsa spilling into the streets. Where to relax when your senses need a reboot? We know the best resorts in Colombia – bookable on Culture Trip.
Keen to visit Colombia but not sure where to stay or what to do? Consider joining Culture Trip’s specially curated eight-day Colombian Andes adventure or our epic eight-day Colombian Caribbean trip – both led by our local insider.
We’ll be frank: there are more beautiful hotels than Tamacá, with its old-fashioned concrete-block design and its rooms sporting functional wood veneer. But sometimes what you need is an undemanding, non-extortionate base. There are also prettier towns than Santa Marta, the town it’s in. But you’re here for the wildly romantic beauty all around: golden beaches, the Sierra Nevada mountain range, rising from the coast to icy peaks, and indigenous villages lost in rainforested valleys. It’s all doable on day trips.
Cartagena, on Colombia’s Caribbean coast, is one of South America’s more enchanting colonial cities: set behind cannon-encrusted walls, it is cut by cobbled streets of ochre and lemon Spanish mansions, with spicy smells wafting from seafood restaurants and vibrant with bars and salsa clubs. This old-fashioned all-inclusive (with family-size pools and balcony rooms squeezed into concrete annexes) sits on a broad sandy beach a 20-minute shuttle ride away from the city, just close enough for you to dip from day to nightlife, with disco naps in between.
You couldn’t accuse the Conrad of hemming you in on holiday – not given those awesome expanses of turquoise Caribbean Sea. Check out the vast complex of swimming pools for all ages. Wander the 18-hole Jack Nicklaus golf course. And rest awhile in your cavernous balconied room, enjoying its meditative contemporary white palette, lent splashes of color by locally sourced art. The only downside? The secluded beach is tennis-court tiny. That and the fact that Cartagena – the jewel in colonial Colombia’s crown – is a half-hour drive away.
On a beach edged by wild forest an hour from Cartagena, this jungle hotel lays on Robinson-Crusoe-barefoot luxury. Rope-floored, palm-thatched cabins have mosquito-netted four posters and Caribbean-view balconies. Some are conjoined – ideal for families. Cartagena is an easy day trip away, and you’re never lost for things to do, from glass-bottom sea kayaking and snorkeling over the coral to heli-trips to ruined pre-Colombian cities in the mountains.
Towering over a Caribbean beach just south of Santa Marta town, this big resort is a favorite among Colombian partygoers and families. It has a pool, tennis courts and a golf driving range; what it won’t deliver is quiet intimacy – even in the garden bungalows. The rooms to book are the balcony suites on the upper floors of the main building – for their sweeping, sunset-over-the-ocean views. Best of all are the Sierra Nevada mountains a half-hour drive away, fringed with the gorgeous, empty beaches of Tayrona National Park.
The small-scale Punta Faro is for young families after a gentle beach, sunset cocktails and a rest. The setting is a white-sand-fringed coral island lapped by turquoise Caribbean shallows, in the heart of the Islas del Rosario National Marine Park. Activities are limited (kayaks cost extra), while Cartagena is too far away for a day trip. But the sea is calm, and the palm-thatch bungalows with chunky beds and balcony hammocks will have you curled up with a book. The junior suites are best, with ocean views and coral-reef snorkeling right off the shore.
DJs and live salsa. A handful of chic-shack thatched bungalows with outdoor bathrooms and plunge pools. A young hipster crowd on holiday from Bogotá or Barranquilla. The Blue Apple is the Colombian Caribbean, Ibiza-style, which means it’s not a place you’d come to rest, soothed to sleep by cicada song and waves. But it’s great for a long weekend dance party, with snorkeling, scuba diving and kayaking between drinks.
It’s not all about the Caribbean. Colombia straddles two oceans. El Amargal belongs to the wilder, wetter Pacific – squeezed between forests of waterfalls and rocky shoreline broken by long, broad coves. It’s fabulous for wildlife: hummingbirds and eagles in the rainforests, manta rays and whales plying the ocean. The wilderness is spectacular, the accommodation jungle-camp simple: open-sided huts with marine breezes for air-con, bare wooden floors and foamy mattresses. Remember, you’re here for creatures rather than creature comforts.
Whitewater rafting, waterfall hikes, hang-gliding, fly fishing – the village of Cocorná, in the Andean foothills east of Medellín, is an under-the-radar light-adventure destination. Tierra de Agua’s open-sided bamboo bungalows cascade down a hillside of re-planted tropical forest, and you’re here for gentle immersion in nature. Sounds of cicadas and flowing water lull you to sleep. You wake to breakfasts of tropical fruit and spend days hiking, swimming in the clear-water river or dozing in the hammam and the spring-water hot tubs.
Aité means barefoot, under-thatch relaxation on one of the least-spoilt stretches of Colombia’s Caribbean coast. Accommodation is simple: fresh, whitewash-and-tile bungalows, with hammock-slung balconies, brightly colored floral cushions and views of the sands shaded with coconut palms. Toucans flit in the trees, turtles clamber over the beaches and – making your visit truly special – nearby are the wild forests of Tayrona National Park, as well as the flamingo-filled wetlands of Los Flamencos wildlife sanctuary.
Looking for more great place to stay in Colombia? Check out our pick of the best hotels in Colombia for every traveler, bookable on Culture Trip.
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meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
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I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
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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.