PLEASE ONLY TRAVEL WHEN IT IS SAFE AND RESPONSIBLE TO DO SO. Articles have not been updated to reflect any travel restrictions which may be in place, so please check with the destination for up-to-date information. Thank you!

Why Colombia Should be on Your Bucket List

Colombia beach sunset - why visit Colombia

Colombia is one of my favourite countries I have visited. When Carly from Curly Bird Travel asked if she could write a blog post about Colombia, and her love for it, I couldn’t refuse.  Colombia really has to be experienced first hand, so here is Carly to tell you why Colombia should be on your bucket list!

I know how you feel. I was also apprehensive about beginning my South America backpacking in Colombia – especially as a solo female traveller. Let’s be honest; the world doesn’t have the best image of Colombia, and the rise in popularity of shows like “Narcos” in recent years hasn’t helped to improve it. Travelling to Colombia will. I was fascinated and delighted to discover that the bad reputation it may have earned from it’s past has nothing to do with the Colombia you will discover today.  All I ask is that you help crush those stereotypes by adding Colombia to your bucket list and visiting this charming country when you can to experience it for yourself.

This site contains affiliate links. I may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. As an Airbnb Associate I earn from qualifying bookings. [Learn more]

You might worry about Colombia being dangerous, scary or politically unsettled, when in reality the vibe that myself and hoards of other backpackers and solo travelers like me were reveling in was nothing but pure positivity. We all agreed that there was something special about Colombia that made it stand out amongst the other countries in our travels through Latin America, and even, in my case, the world. As I started traveling south into Ecuador and Peru, it seemed like every backpacker I met was talking about Colombia. The ones who hadn’t been yet were excited to get there because they had been hearing such good things from travelers like me, who were still raving about the time we spent there and lamenting that we weren’t there anymore. We all wanted to go back, every last one of us. What is it about Colombia?

Doorway in Colombia - why visit Colombia

Trying to put our finger on just what it was, we came to the consensus that there was a certain happy, radiantly positive energy that was present wherever we went in the country, and we could feel its loss when we left. What gave Colombia that special energy, making it stand out amongst the rest?

READ MORE: Backpacking Colombia Travel Guide

Well, it starts, and ends, with the people. Of course, there are loads of cool things to see and do. There is Medellin, an “innovator city” with a fascinating history that has completely transformed in the last decade. Quaint and colorful villages like Guatape, Jardin, and Salento are to die for, in the midst of coffee country with cowboys walking around. The Islands of San Andres and Providencia showcased the most beautiful blue waters I have ever seen. The entire Caribbean coast is a backpackers paradise, equal parts relax and party, and it’s easy to get stuck here for months (I did).

Caribbean Colombia

Still, Colombia doesn’t boast any huge attractions like Macchu Picchu or the Galapagos Islands. Here, it’s not all about what there is to see. Colombia’s charm lies in it’s people. They bring everything to life. It turns out that could be all that you need for an unforgettably pleasant, worthwhile travel experience. Never have I received or felt such pure, genuine hospitality and happiness from a group of people while traveling like I consistently did with the Colombians – and I have traveled a lot!

Happy Colombian kids - why visit Colombia

So what is it about the Colombian people specifically? For starters, tourism and tourists are still pretty new to them. For a long time – the period from which all the bad Colombian stereotypes have emerged – Colombia was unsafe. During the reign of Pablo Escobar, the entire country was a battlefield, with rebel left and right wing political groups, criminals and drug lords waging war against each other and thousands of civilians caught in the crossfire. It was so violent and dangerous that international travel bans were issued. Tourists could not come for fear of being hurt or kidnapped.

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE: Bogota Colombia for Backpackers

Thankfully, these events are history now and Colombia has come a long way towards reaching peace in their country. Colombians’ hard work is paying off and the tourism industry has finally begun to re-emerge as more and more people are laying their misconceptions aside and taking a chance on Colombia, after hearing so many good things. Indeed, I do think word of mouth is the main instigator in this tourism boom. I myself was intrigued by all the good things I heard when I started researching Colombia, which eased my mind about beginning a solo trip backpacking Colombia.

Colourful steps in Guatape Colombia - why visit Colombia

I think the special, happy energy we feel as we get to know Colombia is a result of tourism still being so fresh. For Colombians, tourism is a sign of progression. Many of them lived their entire lives without seeing outsiders because for so long, people just couldn’t come. To see tourists now in their country is a sign that things are good again. Of course, they are thrilled to see us!

For anyone who has spent a significant amount of time in destinations that are accustomed to, and have become hardened to tourism, you will know how sometimes the treatment you get as a tourist isn’t the nicest. But Colombians love tourists. I can’t count how many times Colombians thanked me personally for coming to visit their country. They know about the stereotypes, they have endured a lot as a nation, and they are so happy and appreciative to see outsiders coming to visit despite it all, and after so much time without them.

Carly in Colombia

If I had listened to the bad news, if I didn’t give Colombia a chance, I wouldn’t have gotten to know my favorite country that I have traveled to so far. When we can travel again, you absolutely should visit Colombia and soak up the luxury of being in a place untainted by tourism, waiting for you with open arms.  

About Carly:

Carly is a 30 year old solo-travel veteran who is new to the blogging scene. She has spent the majority of the last ten years living, working and traveling outside of her home country, the USA. She has degrees in Spanish and English languages from Montana State University, and has taken her language skills around the world, living and working in Spain for four years and recently returning from a tour through Latin America, where she fell in love with Colombia and was inspired to write this article. She has traveled to 38 countries in Europe, Asia, North and South America, Australia and New Zealand, but Colombia holds a special place in her heart and at the top of her list of all-time favorites.

You can read more about Carly’s adventures on her blog Curly Bird Travel, as well as on Instagram.

Have you visited Colombia?  Share your Colombian stories in the comments below.

If you’re looking for travel insurance for your trip to Colombia, get a quote now from World Nomads.

Like this post?  Pin it to read later:

Carly from Curly Bird Travel shares why you should visit Colombia, and explains just what is so awesome about this beautiful country, one of my favourites!

Just to let you know, this post may contain paid or affiliate links, which help to maintain Tales of a Backpacker and give me the chance to keep travelling, and to keep creating awesome content for you!

Tales of a Backpacker is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to  I only recommend goods and services I believe are useful and reliable.

Last updated: March 23, 2020

14 thoughts on “Why Colombia Should be on Your Bucket List

  1. Jenna says:

    This is so great and reassuring to hear! We have a trip planned to Colombia this January and can’t wait! We are super excited to visit and I love that the people are so welcoming–thanks for sharing your insights!

  2. Megan Jerrard says:

    It’s funny, from everyone who has been to Colombia in the past couple of years, I’ve heard incredible things – the nagative and fearful stereotypes have come from people who haven’t. I can’t wait to visit Colombia, you’re right, word of mouth seems to be it’s biggest ally for promoting tourism right now, and I would love to get there before it becomes too mainstream – because I think it will happen, even though there aren’t big tourist pulls to big attractions like Machu Pichu or the Galapagos as you pointed out. But I love that it’s main draw is it’s people, and community, sound like a wonderful place to really immerse yourself and get that authentic cultural exchange.

  3. Jessica says:

    I agree with everything you said! My husband, baby daughter and I traveled to Colombia this spring and we fell in love. The people are simply lovely. My daughter was 4 months old and everybody was so sweet and accommodating.

  4. Wanderlust Wayfarer says:

    I’ve wanted to go to Colombia for a long time, and it’s so good to know you felt safe and that the people are so wonderful. I would love to check out the beautiful blue waters of the Islands of San Andres and Providencia.

  5. Karla says:

    I have been hearing a lot about columbia but I love that you say there is something positive about columbia that most backpackers agree ? It is because of this that I would love to experience it for myself too.

  6. Barb says:

    Colombia has been on my bucket list for so long. After reading your post, I feel like I would want to go there even more. The people seem to be so friendly.

  7. RaW | Ramble and Wander says:

    You’re definitely right, sometimes we need to ignore the stereotypes and go and see places/people ourselves to learn the truth. It’s the same when I travelled around the Middle East + Iran. I’ve only read and heard of good things about Colombia from those who have been. Personally however, I’d probably never go there – not because of safety issue or what not, but mostly because of the distance & cost to travel there from SE Asia.

  8. Jennifer says:

    Surely there must be sights to see and things to do in Colombia. I’ve never researched it, but we’re definitely the kind of travelers that go for attractions: great scuba diving sites, hikes, ect.

  9. Toni Broome says:

    It’s great to hear another view of Colombia. Carly, you’re right that so often we can be scared off travelling somewhere by someones third hand account of it or something they heard somewhere. Thanks for sharing your personal experience of it.

  10. Lia Garcia says:

    I LOVE this post and I love Colombia! I agree with everyone else: Colombia was by far my FAVORITE country in all of South America during our 4-month trip. The locals are SO friendly and SO welcoming and just happy that tourism has finally returned to this beautiful, diverse country with so much to offer. I can’t wait to go back to Colombia for the 3rd time 🙂

  11. Julie Cao says:

    I have been in Colombia for over a month now and I can related to all of this. I have fears before i visited Colombia, but my experience in this country is all positive, and locals are happy to see the travelers there. I cannot count how many times locals told me they welcome me to their country. I am still in the country and honesty, I dont want to leave.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *