Condor-soared Andean peaks, a Caribbean coast fringed with talc-soft beaches, the steamy expanse of the Amazon… the Colombian landscapes are breathtaking. And the cities burst with life – the cobbled streets of Cartagena, salsa-fueled clubs of Cali and modish bars of buzzing Bogotá. With more travelers visiting every year there are myriad hostels – even in remote corners such as the beautiful beach-lined La Guajira peninsula and the Sierra Nevada mountains near Santa Marta.
This villa in the Caribbean city of Santa Marta was reportedly once a drug-trafficker’s mansion. It now brims with partying backpackers – who hurl themselves into the turquoise pool and drink icy beer on the sea-view balconies. Dorms come with privacy curtains, reading lights and sockets, and the best of the doubles are hotel-comfortable – with plenty of space and a private balcony. Staff offer tours to the unspoiled Sierra Nevada mountains and beaches of Tayrona National Park – both on the doorstep.
It’s all about the views in this converted farmhouse hostel, perched over a lush valley in the rainforest-covered Sierra Nevada mountains. Rooms and dorms are basic – with little more than a bed, but they open onto giant nets – suspended between beams that jut over the valley. The landscape is at your feet, the ocean on the horizon and trails lead into the toucan-filled jungle. Staff offer a range of tours – canopy walkways, mountain bike rides and hikes, including to the remote pre-Columbian city at La Ciudad Perdida.
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The coolest backpacker hostel in Bogotá is located on a quiet cobbled street on the edge of La Candelaria neighborhood. Fernweh Photography is a small boutique hostel owned by a Colombian photographer – who exhibits his and other colleagues’ work on the hostel walls – with a gorgeous outdoor patio area (a rarity in Bogotá) and a fire pit. With a wood-fired pizza oven, a variety of peaceful and beautifully decorated chill-out areas and the coolest hostel dog in Colombia, Fernweh should be your first-choice hostel in the Colombian capital.
Small and simple, perched on the edge of a cliff-face in the mountains of the Antioquia department, this hostel is particularly cool thanks to high-flying hammocks – a wire is strung across the valley in front of the house and hammocks are suspended above the drop. It’s a hair-raising experience, to say the least, but one of the coolest and most photogenic places to hang in Colombia.
Panorama is located in the pleasant coffee town of Buenavista in the Quindio department. The eponymous panoramic view over the coffee region and the Andes is worth the visit alone, but the coolness factor is enhanced by their commitment to top Colombian coffee. The hostel operates the WakeCup Experience coffee tour (one of the best coffee tours in Colombia) and the entire hostel is dedicated to coffee: fresh specialty coffee is available 24/7 and the walls are decorated with images of local producers, QR codes linking to a recording of their story.
A floating hostel in the crystal-clear waters of the Colombian Caribbean that can only be reached by boat, Casa en el Agua has fast become the hostel of choice for hip travelers. With very little to do other than relax in a hammock, hang out at the bar, or swim in the sea, Casa en el Agua is very much about beauty and relaxation. They also host a monthly full-moon party, arguably the coolest hostel party in Colombia.
A hostel collective on Isla Grande – just an hour by boat from Cartagena – Paraíso Secreto isn’t so secret any more. Occupying a group of abandoned mansions once owned by wealthy emerald barons, the group comprises hostels all operated by different Colombian hostel chains. They’re all in the same area and all in stunning old mansions, so it doesn’t really matter which you choose.
Costeño is a surf camp on a private beach of white sand, blue surf and tall palms. The waves are for beginners, but the laid-back vibe, fantastic beach bar and cool atmosphere make it a hip hangout for everyone. And it’s not often you can stay in a hostel that starred in a music video for a Grammy-winning artist, but you can here. The owner is married to the lead singer of Colombian group Bomba Estereo, and their video for hit-single Somos Dos was filmed here.
Casa Loma is the laid-back option for travelers to the pretty mountain village of Minca. A short but intense hike up a hill on the edge of town leads to this lovely ecohostel, featuring jungle cabins, sunset views and an excellent vegan restaurant. With little to do but laze in a hammock, pet the myriad cats and dogs that call Casa Loma home, or spot toucans in the trees at sunset, this hostel is the perfect place to spend a few relaxing days near the Caribbean coast.
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